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The Doctrine of Salvation

The Doctrine of Salvation

Christianity in the simplest of terms, refers to the teachings of Christ, and those that ascribe to it are identified as Christ followers-Christians. In order to understand the teachings of Jesus Christ, it is important to understand who He is. According to the disciple John (1:1-5), Jesus is not only the Word of God, but He is also God. In essence, whatever word that Jesus spoke He spoke it in the authority of God the Father and in His own authority. The main purpose that Jesus came to earth- God in flesh, was to redeem man to Himself and to the Father. The birth and death of Jesus Christ were prophesied by the prophets Isaiah and Micah, and so, by the time He came to earth, the Jews were aware of such an imminent occurrence. However, there was much contention and disagreement on whether Jesus was who He really implied to be. Contention or not, Christ was not deterred in making known to man His purpose of coming to earth. In this paper, the good news of the kingdom of God as well as the teachings of Paul on justification by faith will be discussed.

Soteriology in the Four Gospels

In the broadest terms, salvation in the gospels includes the complete work by which God the Father seeks to rescue man from the power of sin and death, doom, and ruin and instead bestow upon him the wealth of grace that encompasses eternal glory, abundant life on earth, and eternal life (John 3:16, 36, 10:10) (Grudem, 2009). The saving work of God encompasses different aspects that when combined, accomplish salvation. These aspects are glorification, sanctification, expiation, propitiation, regeneration, imputation, justification, propitiation, reconciliation, forgiveness, and redemption. These and more qualify believers to become children of God and to enter heaven (John 1:12; Colossians 1:12; Ephesians 1:6)

The phrase Kingdom of God appears more than 80 times in the New Testament with most of these mentions in the gospels. The central theme of the teaching of Jesus was the Kingdom of God (McClendon, 2011). John the Baptist, a cousin to Jesus, started off his ministry by announcing that the Kingdom of God was nigh (Mark 1:2). From there, Jesus took over and began to teach on the same: “From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ ” (Matthew 4:17). Jesus taught His disciples and others on how to access the Kingdom of God: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21). Through His parables, Jesus shed light on the truth concerning the Kingdom: “And he answered them, ‘The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables.” (Luke 8:10).

Jesus also told His followers to desire and seek after the Kingdom of God when He taught His disciples to pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom comes, you will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’ ” (Matthew 6:-10). He also promised that He would come back to earth and establish His Kingdom as an inheritance of eternity to those who believe in Him and follow Him: “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world (Mathew 25:34). Jesus also said that His Kingdom was not of this world (John 18:36). What He meant was that His reign was not as a result of earthly human dominion but instead, it was from God the Father. Because of this, He rejected worldly conflict to achieve the purposes He had.

In summary, the Kingdom of God is the realm in which Jesus is King and reigns and the authority of God is supreme. The Kingdom of God is present in the hearts and lives of the redeemed and also in the future fullness and perfection.

Justification by Faith

In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he tells the believers there that faith in Jesus alone is the channel to attain justification (Galatians 2:16). He is concerned that the Galatians had returned to observing the Mosaic rituals and law and admonishes them to despair of attaining justification through their own effort (Galatians 3:3, 4:10, 5:2-4, 6:15). According to Paul, the only way to be justified is through having faith in Jesus Christ and not through adherence to the Mosaic Law(Stuhlmacher, 2012).

Paul says that accomplishing salvation is through being faithful to Jesus just as He was faithful in dying on the cross. Paul says it is faith in Jesus and not faith in Jesus (Romans 3:22, 26; Galatians 2:16, 20; 3:22) that justifies a person. The faith of Jesus is the trust that He had in God for He believed that the resurrection would vindicate His death. A person’s faith in Jesus should be like that of Jesus in God. Salvation is founded on the faith that Jesus had in the Father as demonstrated in His will to die on the cross (Chia, 2011). A person’s faith in Jesus is a response to the action that Jesus took in dying on the cross.

In a nutshell, the main points are: that the Gentiles did not need to follow the Mosaic Law (Galatians) while the letter to the Romans emphasizes that both the Gentiles and Jews are sinners who need to be saved. The Thesis statements in Galatians and Romans respectively are “… we know that a person is justified not by the works of the law but through the faith of Jesus Christ.  And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus so that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by doing the works of the law, because no one will be justified by the works of the law.” (Galatians 2:16) and “For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written: ‘The one who is righteous will live by faith.'” (Romans 1:16-17)

In summary, the teachings by Paul on justification by faith are what distinguish Christianity from all other religions (Strong, 2017). Justification according to these teachings is God’s acts of forgiving a sinner and also imputing him Christ’s righteousness. A person who is declared righteous is made free from sin’s guilt. Justification is instantaneous and is a complete work of God unlike sanctification which is an ongoing growth process. A person needs to understand justification as this along with the knowledge of grace motivates one to spiritual growth and good works. Hence, justification precedes sanctification (Collins, 2010). Because justification is a completed work, a person can be assured of eternal life from having the righteousness that comes through forgiveness of sin.

Conclusion

Jesus Christ came to earth to make man aware of the Kingdom of God and urge man to desire it In His prayer that He taught His disciples, He revealed that the Kingdom of God is a reign in which the will of God is done. He also stated that He is the King in the heavenly kingdom and wants man to rule and reign with Him for eternity.

Gaining access to the Kingdom of God is through salvation. Salvation is through belief in and not on Jesus. It means believing in His death as the only way a person can be reconciled to the Father. Acceptance of the death and resurrection of Jesus for one’s sins automatically justifies a person into righteousness. The justification is final, once forgiven, forever forgiven. Justification does not come through works but rather through faith in Jesus.

References

Chia, R. (2011). Salvation as justification and deification. Scottish Journal of Theology64(2), 125-139.

Collins, K. J. (2010). The scripture way of salvation: The heart of John Wesley’s theology. Abingdon Press.

Grudem, W. A. (2009). Systematic theology: An introduction to biblical doctrine. Zondervan.

McClendon Jr, J. W. (2011). Doctrine: Systematic Theology(Vol. 2). Abingdon Press.

Strong, A. H. (2017). Systematic Theology: Volume II-The Doctrine of Man. Lulu. com.

Stuhlmacher, P. (2012). Revisiting Paul’s Doctrine of Justification: A Challenge to the New Perspective. InterVarsity Press.

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Question 


The Doctrine of Salvation

The Doctrine of Salvation

In 1,000-1,300 words, write a two-part theological analysis as outlined below:

Focusing on the doctrine of salvation, summarize the key New Testament texts identified in the course readings:

1. Jesus’ good news of the kingdom of God as recorded in key parts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John
2. Paul’s good news of justification by faith is found in the letters to the Romans and Galatians.

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